Hey hi hello babes!
This month is a very important one in my calendar, because September 2016 is National Suicide Prevention Awareness Month here in the United States. So today I’m going to get a little personal (surprise, surprise) and also offer some helpful resources and tips for anyone who may, God forbid, need them.
TRIGGER WARNING: The following story references suicide, needles, and hospitals.
During my freshman year of college, on October 28, 2012, I tried to kill myself. I had every intent on taking every single antidepressant I had in my dorm room (more on this later) and had called my best friend, Teresa, to leave a voicemail saying goodbye. Luckily for me, she called back mere minutes later and talked me out of it. She drove me to the hospital near campus, helped me check in, and stayed with me until my parents, and later my big sister and close friend from my sorority, arrived.
REWIND. I was diagnosed with depression my junior year of high school, around November of 2011. Spurred on by a toxic friendship, I was put on Prozac after weeks of hardly sleeping, struggling to get out of bed, and having no appetite. Depression and anxiety runs in my family, but I didn’t yet know this so I just thought I was destined to be a sad Eeyore forever. Then, the magic of antidepressants entered my life and I got better. Or at least my emotional state got regulated, which was incredible. Except for a small stint where I tried to go off Prozac and “be happy without pills*,” I haven’t been off them for an extended time since, and I’m super grateful for that.
*Depression is a chemical imbalance in your brain, not a matter of being happy constantly. I didn’t realize this until later.
I was in the hospital for just under a week after my attempt, enduring group therapy, endless blood draws and vitals checks, and grim food. As an 18 year old, I was the youngest in the adult ward, and I honestly felt insanely separated and alone from the outside world. Well, I felt like that whenever it wasn’t the hour-long visitor meetings that Teresa, my parents, and my then-boyfriend came to. I was discharged November 2, with mandatory psychiatrist meetings scheduled into my phone and one hell of a doctor’s note for my professors.
I still struggled after hospitalization, and had another scare after a falling out with a friend from high school the following summer, but have gotten so much better and learned so much more about depression and anxiety in the years that followed. In fact, Teresa actually orchestrates SkyeDay every October 28, where we just do things that make us both smile and appreciate being alive. My friendships, support from my family, and riding have all helped me heal and find a love for life all over again, as well as the resources I have found through NAMI.
NAMI, or the National Alliance on Mental Illness, is the nation’s largest grassroots mental health organization dedicated to building better lives for the millions of Americans affected by mental illness, and their website has endless amounts of resources to raise awareness for those in need. Below I am going to include a few ways you can join me in fighting the stigma around suicide and mental illness, as well as some important phone numbers to program into your phone in case you, or someone you love, may ever need them.
The Stigma Free Pledge
The Stigma Free Pledge invites you to join me and raise awareness. By learning about mental illnesses, seeing the person and not the illness, and taking action on mental health issues, you can help change the way that mental illness is presented to society. With just a couple clicks and a signature, you’re already taking a step towards being more understanding about issues you may not have considered in the past!
Find a NAMIWalk
NAMIWalks supports the mission-driven work of the NAMI organizations, which host education programs, facilitate support groups, provide mental health trainings, advocate for access to services, and offer a compassionate place to turn for the millions of Americans living with mental illness by walking in solidarity. This year alone, the walks have raised $8,849,695.65! Isn’t that amazing?! If you want to get moving and interact with others who share our passion, consider joining a team in your city today!
It’s been almost four years since that day, and I am eternally lucky to have had the support of my friends and my parents all this time. Every journey starts with one step, and you are never taking on this journey alone.
If you, or anyone you know is considering suicide, please use the following resources:
- I’m in crisis or am experiencing difficult or suicidal thoughts: National Suicide Hotline 1-800-273 TALK (8255)
- I’m looking for more information, referrals or support: NAMI HelpLine 800-950-NAMI (6264)
- If you or someone you know is in an emergency, call The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255) or call 911 immediately.
Much love, and I’ll see you next time!